Written by: Suzanne Monir, Wilson Ho, Miguel Rico, Kimberly Tran, EIS Education Team Members, April 2016
Title: How to Design a Microgravity Experiment
Grade (Age) Level: High School (Ages 14-18), University
This course is to help students focus their efforts in the task of designing a microgravity experiment for EIS.
Experiment Design, Microgravity considerations, microbiological experiments, physical experiments, engineering experiments and physical experiments
ByPass Publishing's Difficult Topics Explained
Before moving on... since all of your experiments will take place in microgravity, you might want to review microgravity here:[Video Credits: ouLearn on YouTube]
Coming up with an experiment for EIS is a very daunting task. There’s so much we don’t know, and there are many experiments you could do to further our understanding of the world. Here are some experiments that NASA is currently running on the ISS, or on other orbiting satellites. Many of the categories below fall under various types of engineering designs, such as satellites. Hopefully these will help inspire creativity for you to begin your own projects!
There are 5 different categories of experiments:
Biology and Biotechnology
Earth and Space Science
Technology Development and Demonstration
There are also educational activities and outreach experiments if you want to find out how NASA is inspiring the next generation to get involved in space exploration.
Biology and Biochemistry
Epigenetics in space flown C. elegans [Photo credits: nasa.gov]
Previous experiments have shown that spaceflight induces transcriptional changes of muscle and metabolic related genes. This experiment will determine how microgravity affects epigenetic change.
Upon return to Earth, the team will study the entire gene and protein expression, histone modifications, microRNA expression, and physiological changes.
This study advances our understanding of epigenetics, and helps develop different medicines and therapies in the future for bone and muscle degradation.
Find more information here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1075.html
Repurposing metformin as an anti-cancer agent [Photo Credits: biospectrumasia.com]
Microgravity changes how drugs and other molecules are transported within the body. Metformin is an anticancer agent, and it will be studied in bacteria to evaluate the molecular mechanism of various chemotherapeutic drugs.
A large array of yeast with various genes knocked out are grown in the presence of a test drug and metformin. Results are analyzed and compared with strains grown on the ground.
By studying yeast cells, this experiment will help us understand how drugs affect specific tissues to both maximize drug effectiveness and minimize unwanted side effects.
Find more information here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1072.html
Studies on gravity-controlled growth and development in plants using true microgravity conditions [ Photo credits: inquirebotany.org]
Previous experiments have shown that auxin transport changes with different magnitudes of gravity. This experiment will clarify the role of auxin in pea and maize growth, and will reveal how microgravity will affects plant development.
Upon return to Earth, the team will analyze and compare auxin concentration and transport rate with ground plants. The team will also look at how microgravity affects genes that produce auxin.
This research is important for long-term space travel, both for oxygen and fresh produce for astronauts. It also advances our understanding of gravitropism, and how auxins help plants adapt to changes in gravity.
Find more information here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/1991.html
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